Fort Bend Co Oops-Kills 2 Owned Pets While Rescue Group Signs Paperwork to Save Them

Fort Bend Co AC in Texas posts its mission statement on its website:

The mission of animal control is to eradicate the spread of rabies among the county’s animals, prevent rabies in the human population, and control wild, potentially dangerous animals in areas of high population density.

Animal shelter fail.

The site contains a link so owners can view photos of lost pets who have been impounded. At that link this morning, there is one dog and zero cats. Animal shelter fail.

Screengrab from FortBendCountyPets.com

Screengrab from FortBendCountyPets.com

Rene Vasquez, assistant director at the Fort Bend Co pound, told a local reporter that the facility takes in 600 pets every month and adopted out just 750 animals last year. Animal shelter fail.

On Monday, a pair of friendly dogs were brought in by someone who had found them roaming loose.  The french bulldog and his pitbull mix buddy were immediately seen by a local rescue group that offered to take the dogs for their 3 day holding period and return them if an owner was located.  While the representative from the rescue was filling out the paperwork, Fort Bend Co killed both dogs.  Oops.  Animal shelter fail.

The rescue group posted the photos of the dogs on its Facebook page in hopes that the owner could be found and informed as to what happened to his pets.  And since Fort Bend Co clearly doesn’t keep its website updated, it’s good the so-called irresponsible public stepped in to take up the slack.

The owner did learn that his pets had been killed and was understandably devastated.  He explained he had followed his normal morning routine, letting his 3 dogs out into his fenced yard and when he let them in 30 minutes later, only 1 dog remained.  When he found out Fort Bend Co had killed his dogs upon impound, he told the local news:

I couldn’t believe it.  I don’t know what to do.  I really don’t know what to do.

Fort Bend Co says protocol wasn’t followed and disciplinary action will be taken against the employees who killed Jax, the mixed breed, and Jake, the frenchie.  Because there is a protocol in place for the systemic killing of dogs and cats at Fort Bend Co – a protocol which dictates owner surrenders may be killed immediately but strays can’t be killed for 3 days.  Animal shelter fail.

Screengrab depicting Jake and Jax from a video at the Click2Houston website

Screengrab depicting Jake and Jax from a video at the Click2Houston website

The kill techs accidentally got Jax and Jake mixed in with the group of pets who are routinely killed upon intake.  Animal shelter fail.

The owner, who did not wish to be identified, told the reporter it would be a shame if this happened to someone else’s dogs.  But killing is the standard protocol in place at Fort Bend Co.  Killing immediately or killing 3 days after impound.  Kill, kill, kill.  I find it extremely unlikely that oops-killings of owned pets haven’t happened before at Fort Bend Co and surely they will happen again.  Because killing is the default.  The protocols are all about killing.  When your facility takes in 600 animals a month and only live releases roughly 62 of them, you are functioning primarily as a pet killing facility.  Animal shelter fail.

In the face of this epic failure at Fort Bend Co, I would suggest disciplinary action against the kill techs who got mixed up while doing their jobs is not going to cut it, especially if the county truly wants to be a no kill shelter, as the assistant director told the Local 2 reporter.  What’s needed is a complete overhaul.  I would start by round-filing all killing based protocols and replacing them with lifesaving protocols, such as the ones followed by the hundreds of open admission shelters in this country saving more than 90% of their pets.  Make the commitment to doing your jobs and sheltering the animals in your care – both owned and unowned.  Get everyone on board with the goal of saving every healthy/treatable dog and cat that comes through the front doors.  If you do that, no employee at the shelter is even going to consider killing dogs like Jax and Jake because their immediate reaction upon seeing them in the kill room is going to be, “A mistake has been made.  These pets are not medically hopeless and suffering.  I am not going to kill them because my job is to save them.  That’s what we do here.”  Tragically, Fort Bend Co had very little to offer in response to the needless killing of Jax and Jake besides oops.

Animal shelter fail.

(Thanks Maureen and Clarice for sending me this story.)

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11 Comments

  1. I believe that the director of this pound attended one of Nathan Winograd’s “Building a No Kill Community” seminars that we (No Kill Houston) organized in 2009 and 2011 in Houston. I’m pretty sure I talked to her. If this is the same person, then clearly she learned absolutely nothing at Nathan’s seminar, and clearly she lied to me when she told me how hard she was working to get to No Kill.

    Reply
  2. BTW: I have their 2007 – 2010 intake/outcome records posted on No Kill Texas Advocates’ website. I just never got around to calculating saves for them. http://www.nokilltexasadvocates.org/ft_bend_co.html

    Reply
    • Thanks. I clicked the 2010 file but it only shows me Jan – Sept. It looks like they were impounding far less than 600 animals per month in 2010. It’s never a good sign when the number of animals being impounded is increasing over time. By putting in place the lifesaving programs of the No Kill Equation, they could likely decrease their intake over time.

      Reply
  3. Wow. I can’t imagine what that owner is going through. I can understand pets that are too sick to save or in too much pain, but how do you mix up animals? Especially when it comes to killing them, that’s like someone going to a hospital for bloodwork or something mundane and never being seen again.

    Reply
  4. mikken

     /  February 12, 2014

    “The mission of animal control is to eradicate the spread of rabies among the county’s animals, prevent rabies in the human population, and control wild, potentially dangerous animals in areas of high population density.”

    Ok, that is the STRANGEST mission statement for Animal Control ever. It sounds like they are out giving rabies vaccines and putting up deer fencing all day long. Which…clearly they aren’t because the above seems to translate as “we kill everything that comes our way!”

    Was their mission statement written in 1955? Because the “kill em all and let God sort em out” mentality of Animal Control sure is.

    That poor owner. And to know that his animals would have been safe if someone, anyone had stopped and said, wait – do we really need to kill these dogs? Or if they just hesitated long enough for the rescue group to take them. Or if ANYTHING got in the way of the “Yay, Killing!” attitude…

    Reply
    • Pet killing facilities frequently use the “prevent rabies” BS when they are trying to justify impounding and killing massive amount of animals, or one of these “oops killing”. However, when asked why they don’t vacinate on intake, they change their tune to “rabies transmission is not a big threat among cats and dogs”. We’ve heard this double speak coming from Houston’s pound.

      BTW: Awhile back, I read that there hadn’t been a case of transmission of rabies from a dog or cat to human in about 30 years. I think most cases come from bats and skunks.

      Someone should do a public information request to this facility for records of all transmission of rabies from a cat or dog to humans in the last 30 years. I’ll bet that would be an incredibly short stack of paper…. i.e. maybe 1 page.

      Reply
      • Just because they plead “error” doesn’t get them off the hook! They need to get serious about saving animals! Why the rush to kill! They don’t follow the law and when caught claim “oops” Well I’m getting really sick of this lousy excuse and there need to be severe consequences! This is serious and them just brush it under the rug!

  5. Vicki A

     /  February 13, 2014

    i hope the owners have a good attorney and i hope the press picks this up big time. i also can almost guess the reason these dogs were chosen for the killing list – should we say “profiling by looks”. someone should make a map or something of counties in the USA where it is NOT safe to be a dog or cat due to the location of pet killing facilities in those areas.

    Reply
  6. Thank you so much for sharing their story! We are doing everything we can to bring changes in honor of our boys, Jaxx and Jake. Its articles that this that will inform people of this problem. This is not the first time this has happened at this shelter. Maybe now we can bring about the changes needed to save many other lives! We have a Facebook page with their pictures, in memory of Jake and Jaxx.
    Thank you everyone for your prayers and support!

    Reply
  7. Ann Gardner

     /  February 14, 2014

    Sadly,this is not the first time that this has happened. Kimberly, my heart aches for your heart in this loss.
    The Shelter falls under the Health Dept.
    The head of the Fort bend Health Department is Dr. Kendrix.
    To contact Dr. Kendrick you may call Health & Human Services
    administration at
    Phone: 281-238-3589 e-mail md.kendrick@co.fort-bend.tx.us
    or e-mail the deputy director Kaye Reynolds at Kaye.Reynolds@fortbendcountytx.gov
    A group of shelter volunteers met with Dr. Kendrix and Ms. Reynolds last June 2013 after a pregnant cat was killed while an adopter was on their way. We were promised changes and a follow-up meeting, which did not happen.

    Reply
  8. Jolie Zulkowski

     /  February 15, 2014

    I personally find that mission statement odd. On two occasions we have killed skunks in the daytime in my area. I could not get anyone with the County to come and get them and do the proper testing to make the determination that they were rabid! I went to drastic measures, seriously, to get someone to help me! How do you profess to control rabies when one has to go through such acts?! Total FAIL all the way around!! I am truly sickened by what happened to those babies this week!! No apology is good enough!! Something HAS to be done!!

    Reply

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